Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio Espagnol, Scheherazade & Russian Easter Festival Overture (2020)


Vasily Petrenko, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

Vasily Petrenko

Exclusively Available in Stereo DSD 512, DSD 256, DSD 128, and DSD 64 at NativeDSD Music!

For their 6th DSD release at NativeDSD Music, the Oslo Philharmonic under the baton of Vasily Petrenko perform Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34, coupled with the Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36 and Scheherazade, Op. 35, Symphonic Suite.

On this brand new recording from Lawo Classics. Vasily Petrenko is one of the most significant and galvanizing musicians alive. He is one of the most acclaimed classical recording artists alive and has won numerous accolades for his recordings of Russian repertoire, including two Gramophone awards. With the Oslo Philharmonic, he has recorded Shostakovich and Szymanowski concertos, Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, as well as two major cycles of orchestral works by Alexander Scriabin and Richard Strauss respectively.

This new recording of Rimsky-Korsakov with the Oslo Philharmonic continues their journey together and is sure to generate critical acclaim. Previous Strauss recordings were selected as "Editor's Choice" by Gramophone Magazine and were universally critically acclaimed: Gramophone Magazine: "There's no lack of excitement or, where needed, bombast, and the Osloers' sound at full throttle is thrilling, their playing superb." The Sunday Times: "As Petrenko's tenure in Oslo begins to wind down, he revels in the standards of orchestral virtuosity he has attained with this excellent band in two Strauss tone poems that challenge all-instrumental departments...the Osloers shine brilliantly."

It was Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov's older brother, Voin, who first put ideas of travel, ships, and the sea into the would-be composer's head. The young Nikolay had never set foot aboard a boat but Voin's evocative letters home from the Far East, where he was stationed in the Imperial Russian Navy proved more than sufficient. In 1856, he enrolled as a naval cadet and completed six years of training.

Barely a year into his studies at the naval academy, the young Nikolay saw his first opera. Soon he heard symphonies by Beethoven and Mendelssohn and encountered a piece by his senior Mikhail Glinka, Jota Aragonesa. Even before he embarked on a three-year voyage around the world aboard a clipper, Rimsky knew he wanted to be a composer, not a seaman. Afterward, having sailed into some of the great ports of the world, he returned home happy never to leave Russia again the only journeys Rimsky wanted to make were musical.

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Vasily Petrenko

After just one week working with Vasily Petrenko in 2009, the Oslo Philharmonic invited the Russian conductor to be its fifteenth Principal Conductor. At a landmark concert in Oslo on 28 August 2013, Petrenko was inaugurated in his new role conducting Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Vasily Petrenko is one of the most significant and galvanizing musicians alive. He became famous for his transformative work at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the oldest orchestra in the United Kingdom, where he refashioned the orchestra’s sound, reconnected the organization to its home city and presided over a huge increase in ticket sales. He quickly came to represent a new generation of conductors ready to combine their uncompromising artistic work with a passion for communication and inclusion. Vasily was born in St Petersburg in 1976 and trained at the city’s famous conservatoire. As a student, he took part in a masterclass with Mariss Jansons, the conductor who helped establish the Oslo Philharmonic as one of the great orchestras of the world. After winning a handful of competitions, Vasily became Chief Conductor of the St Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra in 2004 and later principal guest conductor at the city’s Mikhailovsky Theatre. Vasily is one of the most acclaimed classical recording artists alive and has won numerous accolades for his recordings of Russian repertoire, including two Gramo-phone awards. In 2017 he received the Gramophone Award Artist of the Year. With the Oslo Philharmonic, he has recorded Shostakovich and Szymanowski concertos, Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev, and a major new cycle of orchestral works by Alexander Scriabin, of which this release is the last in the series of three CDs. Vasily has conducted the London, Sydney, Chicago, Vienna, San Francisco, and NHK Symphony Orchestras as well as the Russian National Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. In February 2018 he made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker. He has conducted at the Zurich, Paris and Hamburg Operas and at Glyndebourne. At Oslo Konserthus, Vasily provides the backbone of the Oslo Philharmonic’s subscription series. He has conducted the orchestra in London, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Berlin, Vienna, Bratislava, Dublin, Paris, Tokyo, Edinburgh, San Sebastian, Santander, Hong Kong and Taipei.

photo: from booklet Scriabin Symphonies Nos. 1 & 5

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

On 27 September 1919, a new orchestra took to the stage of the old Logan Hall in Oslo to give its first public concert. Conductor Georg Schnéevoigt presided over thrilling performances of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Christian Sinding’s First Symphony. After forty years of making-do, the Norwegian capital had at last got the orchestra it deserved. The Oslo Philharmonic was born. 

In the eight months that followed, the Oslo Philharmonic gave 135 concerts, most of which sold out. It tackled passionate Mahler, glistening Debussy and thrusting Nielsen. Soon, world famous musicians were coming to conduct it, relishing its youth and enthusiasm. Igor Stravinsky and Maurice Ravel visited Oslo to coach the musicians through brand new music. National broadcaster NRK began to hang microphones at the orchestra’s concerts, transmitting them to the whole of Norway. 


Over the next half-century, the Oslo Philharmonic’s reputation grew steadily. Then, in 1979, it changed forever. A young Latvian arrived in Norway, taking the orchestra apart section-by-section, putting it back together a finely tuned machine with a whole new attitude. Under Mariss Jansons, the orchestra became a rival to the great Philharmonics of Vienna, Berlin and New York. It was soon playing everywhere, from Seattle to Salzburg, Lisbon to London. Back home in Oslo, it got a modern, permanent concert hall of its own. In 1986, EMI drew up the largest orchestral contract in its history, ensuring the world would hear the rich, visceral sound of the Oslo Philharmonic. 



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Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio Espagnol, Scheherazade & Russian Easter Festival Overture (2020)


Vasily Petrenko, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

    The Sunday Times

Petrenko’s tenure in Oslo may have lasted for only a third of his predecessor Mariss Jansons’s 21 seasons with the orchestra, but his impact has been as potent. Here he conducts a Russian classic, Rimsky’s pictures of Arabian Nights derring-do and voyages across the sea, which swells through the orchestra’s rhapsodic ebb and flow. The concertmaster Batnes is beguiling.

Hugh Canning

    NativeDSD Senior Reviewer

An excellent recording. Sure you've heard these pieces before, but Petrenko really blows the cobwebs off!

Bill Dodd, Senior Reviewer

    The Arts Desk

Few contemporary conductors seem as prolific in the recording studio as Vasily Petrenko, albums with his orchestras in Liverpool and Oslo emerging with unnerving frequency. The consistency is impressive though, Petrenko's high hit-rate recalling the halcyon days of Neeme Järvi and the RSNO in the mid-1980s. It takes rare talent to make the most familiar repertoire sound newly-minted, and this Oslo Rimsky-Korsakov anthology is a zinger. That these three works are so popular doesn’t mean that they’re not good. Yes, Rimsky-Korsakov was a master orchestrator and understood how to write idiomatically for every instrument, but his music doesn’t play itself. Petrenko’s Capriccio Espagnol is great fun. Especially when the fourth section’s fast bit gets underway, preceded by some delectable solo work. Petrenko’s rhythmic alertness is one of his strengths. Everything is perfectly placed, little details like the semiquavers on low brass and horns so, so right, without derailing the music’s momentum. The Russian Easter Festival Overture is similarly well handled, the closing section’s chimes anticipating Rachmaninov. This Scheherazade is another keeper, Petrenko assiduously following Rimsky Koraskov’s dynamic markings and hitting the first fortissimo to startling effect five or so minutes in. The Oslo Philharmonic’s leader Elise Båtnes is a magnetic soloist, matched by the orchestra’s solo winds and brass. Have the trumpet and trombone calls in the second movement ever sounded so brazen, so full of character? “The Young Prince and The Young Princess” delights, though the best is saved for later, the last movement’s reprise of the suite’s main theme overwhelming. Exciting stuff indeed; a great romantic symphony in all but name. Sumptuous recorded sound to boot, and alluring art.

Graham Rickson[read full review]

    Presto Classical - Recording of the Week

With the prospect of exploring far-off lands and places firmly off the menu for most of the world this summer, the musical postcards and fantastical journeys which spring vividly to life on today’s Recording of the Week could be just what the doctor ordered for many of us: the Oslo Philharmonic and their outgoing (in both senses of the word) Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko make for sparkling travelling-companions in three of Rimsky-Korsakov’s best-known works, Capriccio Espagnol, the Russian Easter Festival Overture and Scheherazade, on a recording which showcases the composer’s brilliance as an orchestrator to precision-engineered perfection. 2020 is a year of transition for the remarkable Russian conductor, as his tenure in Oslo draws to a close and he prepares to take over as Music Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra this autumn. With a fascinating Prokofiev/Myaskovsky project already in the can, this isn’t quite the end of the story for the partnership recording-wise, but the album serves as a colourful summary of everything which he and the orchestra have achieved together over the past seven years: immaculate ensemble, individual and collective virtuosity, and above all the gift for compelling musical story-telling which also made their series of Strauss tone-poems such a joy. I had the pleasure of spending the best part of an hour speaking with Petrenko about the project and his time in Oslo more generally last month, and the concision and clarity with which he communicated his ideas about these scores gave me some idea of the energy and focus which he doubtless brings to the rehearsal-process; that clarity translates readily into sound, with every interpretative detail we discussed registering loud and clear on the recording. The stark, exposed opening of Scheherazade (which he cheerfully described as a moment where ‘most conductors just pray!’) has not so much as a hair out of place in terms of ensemble and blend, and in the long sea-voyage which follows you can practically smell the ocean: there’s a real sense of the ebb and flow of the waves, the resistance of Sinbad’s ship as it ploughs through the water, and even the flecks of sea-spray (captured quite brilliantly by LAWO’s engineers, who don’t miss a trick throughout). Much of this atmosphere is generated by the care which Petrenko and his players take over accompanying figures, which never lapse into monotony even when the notes on the page remain unvaried for long stretches at a time, something which also pays dividends in the Tale of the Kalandar Prince which follows and which also shines a spotlight on the mighty Oslo brass, who keep their powder dry for much of the recording but blaze all the more brightly for it when allowed off the leash. Pacing, too, is quite marvellously judged here and above all in the final movement, where the impact of the shipwreck registers with shocking immediacy thanks to Petrenko’s eye for the long game, with no sense of peaking too soon in terms of tempo or dynamics. Before all of this there’s an equally characterful Capriccio Espagnol, almost balletically light on its feet and shot through with a wonderfully folky, out-of-doors charm, with especially fine work from the principal clarinet and the Norwegian leader Elise Båtnes (who has plenty of centre-stage moments in all three works and acquits herself with eloquence and grace on all counts). The Russian Easter Festival Overture also benefits from a relatively light touch (though the bassoons supply lugubrious gravitas in spades when required), the balance and ensemble in the winds again pitch-perfect in the chorale-like sections and the entire piece unfolding with plenty of forward momentum and direction so that nothing ever sags or loses impetus. But it’s Scheherazade which is the main event, and it plays out like an opera without words here. That final violin solo, phrased and coloured like a miniature aria as the master story-teller bids her bitter-sweet farewell, is more movingly realised here than on just about any other recording or live performance I’ve heard; on several levels it’s an apt metaphor for Petrenko himself as he departs to spin his spellbinding musical narratives in pastures new.

Katherine Cooper[read full review]

    Challenge Records International

Love, love, love this Scheherazade! Forget anything you expect about the composition or the composer, this is a new and original experience. And with good equipment, the audio quality is electrifying! Thank You!

Loren Amelang

Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio Espagnol, Scheherazade & Russian Easter Festival Overture (2020)


Vasily Petrenko, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

Producer: Andrew Walton
Recording Engineer: Thomas Wolden, Vegard Landaas
Recording location: Oslo Concert Hall on May 25-29, 2019
Recording Software: Pyramix, Merging Technologies
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DXD

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LWC1198: Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio Espagnol, Scheherazade & Russian Easter Festival Overture
01:14:52   Select quality & channels above
Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34 - I. Alborada
00:01:12   N/A
Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34 - II. Variazioni
00:05:08   N/A
Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34 - III. Alborada
00:01:10   N/A
Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34 - IV. Scena e canto gitano. Allegretto
00:05:03   N/A
Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34 - V. Fandango asturiano
00:03:19   N/A
Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36
00:15:03   N/A
Scheherazade, Op. 35 - I. The Sea and Sinbad's Ship
00:09:42   N/A
Scheherazade, Op. 35 - II. The Tale of The Kalendar Prince
00:12:11   N/A
Scheherazade, Op. 35 - III. The Young Prince and The Young Princess
00:09:48   N/A
Scheherazade, Op. 35 - IV. Festival at Baghdad - The Sea - The Shipwreck
00:12:16   N/A

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